William Wordsworth

(1770-1850 / Cumberland / England)

Personal Talk Poem by William Wordsworth


I

I AM not One who much or oft delight
To season my fireside with personal talk.--
Of friends, who live within an easy walk,
Or neighbours, daily, weekly, in my sight:
And, for my chance-acquaintance, ladies bright,
Sons, mothers, maidens withering on the stalk,
These all wear out of me, like Forms, with chalk
Painted on rich men's floors, for one feast-night.
Better than such discourse doth silence long,
Long, barren silence, square with my desire;
To sit without emotion, hope, or aim,
In the loved presence of my cottage-fire,
And listen to the flapping of the flame,
Or kettle whispering its faint undersong.

II

'Yet life,' you say, 'is life; we have seen and see,
And with a living pleasure we describe;
And fits of sprightly malice do but bribe
The languid mind into activity.
Sound sense, and love itself, and mirth and glee
Are fostered by the comment and the gibe.'
Even be it so; yet still among your tribe,
Our daily world's true Worldlings, rank not me!
Children are blest, and powerful; their world lies
More justly balanced; partly at their feet,
And part far from them: sweetest melodies
Are those that are by distance made more sweet;
Whose mind is but the mind of his own eyes,
He is a Slave; the meanest we can meet!

III

Wings have we,--and as far as we can go,
We may find pleasure: wilderness and wood,
Blank ocean and mere sky, support that mood
Which with the lofty sanctifies the low.
Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know,
Are a substantial world, both pure and good:
Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
Our pastime and our happiness will grow.
There find I personal themes, a plenteous store,
Matter wherein right voluble I am,
To which I listen with a ready ear;
Two shall be named, pre-eminently dear,--
The gentle Lady married to the Moor;
And heavenly Una with her milk-white Lamb,

IV

Nor can I not believe but that hereby
Great gains are mine; for thus I live remote
From evil-speaking; rancour, never sought,
Comes to me not; malignant truth, or lie.
Hence have I genial seasons, hence have I
Smooth passions, smooth discourse, and joyous thought:
And thus from day to day my little boat
Rocks in its harbour, lodging peaceably.
Blessings be with them--and eternal praise,
Who gave us nobler loves, and nobler cares--
The Poets, who on earth have made us heirs
Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays!
Oh! might my name be numbered among theirs,
Then gladly would I end my mortal days.

Submitted: Monday, April 05, 2010

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Comments about this poem (Personal Talk by William Wordsworth )

  • Silver Star - 4,466 Points Terry Craddock (8/22/2014 8:02:00 PM)

    Better than such discourse doth silence long,
    Long, barren silence, square with my desire;
    To sit without emotion, hope, or aim,
    In the loved presence of my cottage-fire,


    Sometimes I wonder how much is lost in noise, the noble art of silent sitting, listening watching a fire's flames, is a world realm of solitude wonder; into which minds great or low may soar, peace contentment stolen smokes soothes, waiting beyond the veil, an open waiting exploration door :) (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,482 Points Michael Morgan (8/22/2014 7:56:00 AM)

    easily shouldered aside, the lie; not so easily, malignant truth; the first can be deleted, the second can be only held at bay- and that 's the (undeletable) malignant truth. Wordsworth at his most believably disingenuous! Fine melody.. Simple, readable. MM (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,427 Points Savita Tyagi (8/22/2014 6:48:00 AM)

    Loved the poem. Silence is golden. (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 3,871 Points Douglas Scotney (8/22/2013 8:43:00 PM)

    Needs to be desanctified,
    to lose a lot of adjectives
    to be meet for modern ears,
    but there's nothing wrong with his fears (Report) Reply

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